The Computer Mouse

A mouse is a pointing device that detects two-dimensional motion relative to a surface. This motion is typically translated into the motion of a pointer on a display, which allows for fine control of a graphical user interface.

Physically, a mouse consists of an object held in one’s hand, with one or more buttons. Mice often also feature other elements, such as touch surfaces and “wheels”, which enable additional control and dimensional input.

The history of the mouse starts with the trackball, a related pointing device, which was invented in 1946 by Ralph Benjamin as part of a post-World War II-era radar plotting system called Comprehensive Display System (CDS). Benjamin was then working for the British Royal Navy Scientific Service. Benjamin’s project used analog computers to calculate the future position of target aircraft based on several initial input points provided by a user with a joystick. Benjamin felt that a more elegant input device was needed and invented a ball tracker called roller ball for this purpose.

The device was patented in 1947, but only a prototype using a metal ball rolling on two rubber-coated wheels was ever built and the device was kept as a military secret.

Douglas Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) invented his first mouse prototype in the 1960s with the assistance of his lead engineer Bill English. They christened the device the mouse as early models had a cord attached to the rear part of the device looking like a tail and generally resembling the common mouse. Engelbart never received any royalties for it, as his employer SRI held the patent, which ran out before it became widely used in personal computers.

Modern mice are now available wired or wireless.  Such a simple device changed the way we interacted with computers.  Modern laptops have built in track pads but many users still prefer a mouse.

Inventor Douglas Engelbart’s computer mouse, showing the wheels that make contact with the working surface.

Modern wireless mouse



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Posted on January 30, 2015, in Useful Information. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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